Israeli taxi-hailing app Gett Taxi has denied any racism after it was sued by human rights lawyers for discrimination over its feature allowing users to avoid hailing taxis that drive on Shabbat in Jerusalem.
The lawsuit centres on the firm’s “Mehadrin” service which allows users to order a taxi that is never driven on the Jewish Sabbath. Activists say this is a way of excluding Arab Muslim and Christian drivers, but the firm said it could by anyone.
A Gett spokesman said the Mehadrin service “was launched in order to satisfy a need for a specific sector in the population, to which, according to its faith, is unable to reserve taxis that cannot drive on the Sabbath and on Jewish holiday”.
However lawyer Asaf Pink said: “They give it a religious title but in fact this is a proxy for a racist service that provides taxis with Jewish drivers… Of course, they can’t just say ‘we don’t want Arabs’.”
Gett is a global firm that also works with black cabs in the UK. In response to the lawsuit it said: “Every taxi driver who is interested in belonging to this fleet, including non-Jews, can join, on the condition that the taxi does now drive on Shabbat and during Jewish holidays.”
The lawsuit, which is demanding about £35 million in compensation from the firm’s founders, follows a two-year investigation into the firm conducted by groups such as the Israel Religious Action Center.